|Markets were both local and regional in Spanish America, and this list opens
a window onto the kinds of materials and objects sold in indigenous communities
in 16th century New Spain. Few are luxury items, although rabbit hair and clay
bells could have been used for fancy clothing.
One can easily imagine the spectacle of this market: the smells of fresh-cut
wood, chile peppers, fish, and lime would permeate the air, and sellers would
hawk baskets, torches, salt and dyes. The goods for sale and bargains made
were a critical part of local visual culture for indigenous people, here and
across central Mexico. And no less than the products themselves, the physical
labor of making and hauling market goods were integral to the visual and bodily
practices of many a Nahua in New Spain.
|This document lists taxes paid on goods in the market of Coyoacan, New Spain.
A Nahuatl-speaking region just to the southwest of Mexico City, Coyoacan had
been important in pre-Hispanic times, and by the mid-16th century it was a thriving
agricultural center, with Spanish settlers living nearby the Nahua community.
In 16th century Coyoacan, the market would have occurred on days set by pre-Hispanic custom and was overseen by a Nahua judge. In fact, most of the market items described here have pre-Hispanic precedents. For instance, the region had been famed for its wood products and carpentry. Only candles and tomines were introduced by Spaniards.
Don Juan de Guzmán, who received the money from these market taxes, was a Nahua tlatoani. These taxes were just one portion of what commoners owed him every year.